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Full text of "My Country And My People"

190      MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

inequality and all its privileges, and falls in love with it, as
Ramsay MacDonald fell in love with Downing Street. The
latter went up the steps of No. 10, sniffed its air and felt happy.
Practically, this turn-about-face has been noticed in every
modern successful Chinese revolutionist. He clamps down his
iron heel on the freedom of the press more energetically than
the militarist he denounced while in his revolutionary appren-
ticeship.

For he has now got a "big face." He stands above the law
and the constitution, not to speak of traffic rules and museum
regulations. That face is psychological and not physiological.
Interesting as the Chinese physiological face is, the psycho-
logical face makes a still more fascinating study. It is not a
face that can be washed or shaved, but a face that can be
"granted" and "lost" and "fought for" and "presented as a
gift." Here we arrive at the most curious point of Chinese
social psychology. Abstract and intangible, it is yet the most
delicate standard by which Chinese social intercourse is
regulated.

But it is easier to give an example of Chinese face than to
define it. The official in the metropolis, for instance, who can
drive at sixty miles an hour, while the traffic regulations allow
only thirty-five, is gaining a lot of face. If his car hits a man,
and when the policeman comes round he silently draws a card
from his pocket-book, smiles graciously and sails away, then
he is gaining greater face still. If, however, the policeman is
unwilling to give him face and pretends not to know him, the
official will begin "talking mandarin" by asking the police-
man "if he knows his father" and signalling to the chauffeur
to go off, and thus his face waxes still greater. And if the
incorrigible policeman insists on taking the chauffeur to the
station, but the official telephones to the chief of police, who
immediately releases the chauffeur and orders the dismissal of
the little policeman who did not "know his father," then the
face of the official becomes truly beatific.

Face cannot be translated or defined. It is like honour and
is not honour. It cannot be purchased with money, and gives
a man or a woman a material pride. It is hollow and is what
men fight for and what many women die for. It is invisible and